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Re: X Configuration Interface for Debian

> John Goerzen <jgoerzen@complete.org> writes:
> Just use dpkg for that.  That's how dselect does it.  For example,
> `dpkg -l' to get a list of packages.

Thanks for the tip.

It doesn't quite seem to provide all the info, though.  It appears to only 
list the installed packages, and doesn't put them into categories (mail, news, 
etc. and required, reccommended, extra, etc.)

> Don't use Qt because it's not free.  Any of the others are fine.

Good point, I hadn't realized that before you mentioned it.

> Regarding the config files, lots of packages already make a reasonable
> attempt to parse and edit config files in their postinst's.  You
> should also take a look at Lars' cfgtool program.  I've already

I had never seen cfgtool before.  After a bit of searching, I managed to 
locate Lars' homepage and found it from there.

It looks like a very good idea!  I don't know why it isn't in use in Debian?

If it would become accepted in Debian, it would *greatly* simplify the design 
of the internal workings of an X-based configurator.  Plus it would provide a 
CLI for people that don't use X.

> thought a bit about what needs to be added to that to make an X
> frontend nice.  (variable types - boolean, string, integer, file, etc;
> rules for variable names - <packagname>.<variable>; format for help
> file) All these should be integrated.

As far as help files go, there are several Tcl/Tk programs that implement help 
with hypertext, including context sensitivity.  So that won't be a problem.

Variables -- Tcl/Tk lets you have arrays whose indexes are arbitrary strings, 
so you could have, for instance

$sendmail(masquerade) = myhost.mydomain.org
$sendmail(smarthost) = myisp.mydomain.org

instead of just variables named sendmail.masquerade, etc.  Using arrays, it is
very easy to just zap all of the sendmail info from memory when it is not 
needed, etc.  It is also easy to get all the info when needed.

(But perhaps this is getting a bit too detailed, as I am still kinda in the 
stage of wondering of there is even support out there for me to be writing 
this program).

> >  * Provide mailing list(s) via Majordomo, if necessary
> Bruce provided a way for any of us to easily create mailing lists
> served by lists.debian.org.

OK, good.

I guess what I'm looking for here is somebody to say either "that's a good 
idea, and we'll help you where you need help" or to say "I don't think that 
this is such a great idea."

I do not have the time to do it all myself.  The configuration file parsing 
remains the biggest stumbling block to me being the sole author of such a 
program.  After I get some assurance that there will be people willing to help 
(eg, with writing parsers), I'll be happy to discuss the internals of the 
program.  At this point, I feel that it's jumping the gun a bit.


John Goerzen          | System administrator & owner, The Communications
Custom programming    | Centre and Complete Network (complete.org)
jgoerzen@complete.org | Free Unix shell access, 316-367-8490 w/ your modem.

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